Sounds, noises, listening… Throughout the twentieth century, many composers have worked on this problem of listening. From Luigi Russolo and his futurist manifesto (L’arte dei Rumori, 1913) to Raymond Murray Schafer and his sound ecology, via Edgar Varèse, John Cage, Lamonte Young, Feldman or Pierre Henry and Pierre Schaeffer, they have all brought through their writings, reflections and compositions a new look on the place of sound in our environment.
Nevertheless, it is clear that today, more than fifty years after Cage’s 4’33”, our sound space is invaded, filled to the maximum. Our listening is transformed, to say the least, if not damaged (intensive use of the mp3 format…).
This project was born from the attentive listening of a place. A natural, living environment, reflection of the humanity of the XXIst Century. It proposes a re-learning of the listening of a familiar sound environment. A kind of work of entomologist of the sound to the service of the ears of the listeners.
Our ears are now accustomed to listening primarily to what is given to hear by the world today. They often sort out and leave aside, by lack of attention, of time, or of decision, the sounds which surround us and inhabit a given place. By the general concept of the concert, people are accustomed to come and sit and wait for the performance to begin while chatting, looking at their phone or reading a note or a newspaper. As soon as the artists enter the stage, the listening begins. That is, the brain sends the command to the ear to listen. This positioning ends when one has finished applauding, the concert being finished. One returns then to a more targeted listening of the things which one needs to hear by necessity.
The architectural environment in which we live transforms our listening. The sounds use the elements that surround us to sound and it appears obvious that we do not listen in the same way if we live in the city or in the countryside. Our ears are shaped little by little in relation to our surrounding architecture. This observation serves as the basis for the graphic score project of this mixed electroacoustic work.
Through this project, another relationship to the concert and therefore to listening is established. The public is invited to come and sit in a given place, within a particular listening device. People should feel almost alone in front of the environment, like during a walk on the top of a mountain, when one sits down for a while to savor the present moment.
In three phases, the work, a mixed electroacoustic creation, will reveal itself in situ. Starting from the natural sounds of the place (the endemic sounds, produced in an unintentional way), it will return to them after an amplified journey with the help of a mixed electroacoustic device carefully placed in the concert space.
A graphic score, based on the architecture of the place, will allow the performing musicians to interact (in thickness) on the electroacoustic sounds.
With this project, another relationship to the concert and therefore to listening is established. The first phase allows for an airlock of deprogramming of listening and allows everyone to begin to “let the sounds be what they are” (J. Cage). The fact of passing through a phase of silence invites each one to settle in a particular listening, more open, free. The sounds will be perceived little by little and will take more and more space.
The second phase plays on the creation, the concert, the performance of the artists that we have come to listen to. These artists work live, in situ, and highlight certain sounds that do not come from their gestural and/or instrumental intention, nor from their technique, nor from a score defined in advance. They follow and listen at the same time as the public. Little by little, their intention of revealing or highlighting certain sounds takes shape and the natural sounds become something else. They transform, move, merge into each other and make appear a sound sculpture (M.Duchamp) emanating from the raw material of the place where one is. The graphic score interpreted by the musicians allows them to interact with these electroacoustic sounds, amplified or not.
Finally, the third phase reacclimates the ears to the sounds endemic to the place. Certain amplified sounds will particularly speak or touch or disturb certain ears. These sounds, once returned to their original, natural, unamplified state, will continue to be listened to by the listener, but in a different, more respectful, more accomplished, more profound way. On the other hand, other sounds will appear to some as completely new, even though they were present when they arrived on the site. Little by little, hearing will regain its original meaning and let the sounds be.
This project is the object of a collection of sounds that draw a territory, a place, a space. These sounds can thus be listed and allow to draw a sound map of a given environment. The surrounding architecture of the place of collection results in a graph that will serve as a score for the performing musicians.
The GMEM of Marseille, directed by Christian Sébille, wishes to support and follow this project in co-production from its research phase to its creation through the writing of the score. It commissions this work for a creation on the REEVOX festival in February 2015 and provides the composer with its technical means, working spaces, studio as well as the musicians of its associated ensemble: C Barré. Moreover, it takes care of the transportation, lodging and meal expenses of the composer during all the phase of work on the city of Marseille for the creation of a Walden/Marseille.
The Abbey of Noirlac located in the Cher (18), cultural center of meeting, directed by Paul Fournier, also wishes to support and help this project. The composer will be able to reside there in order to write the score and a work in relation with the project of the place will be elaborated. Thus a Walden/Noirlac will be born, in adequacy with the project of rehabilitation of the gardens of the abbey, led with the botanist Gilles Clément.